Staff

Mr. Herendeen founded the Contemporary American Theater Festival in 1991. Through his leadership the Contemporary American Theater Festival has produced 80 new plays, 30 World Premieres, 8 new play commissions and has gained a reputation as one of America’s most important producers of new work. Most recently, he directed the World Premier of Eclectic Society by Eric Conger at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia.

In addition to his work as the Producer of CATF, his directing credits include the following World Premieres: Dear Sara Jane by Victor Lodato, Jazzland by Keith GloverThe Ecstasy of Saint Theresa by John Olive, The Occupation by Harry Newman, Miss Golden Dreams, A Play Cycle by Joyce Carol Oates, Compleat Female Stage Beauty by Jeffrey Hatcher, Carry the Tiger to the Mountain by Cherylene Lee, Bad Girls by Joyce Carol Oates, Octopus by Jon Klein, Psyche Was Here by Lynn Martin, What are Tuesdays Like? by Victor Bumbalo and Still Waters by Lynn Martin. Other CATF directing credits include The Late Henry Moss by Sam Shepard, Thief River by Lee Blessing, Something in the Air, Gun-Shy, and Below the Belt by Richard Dresser, The Water Children by Wendy MacLeod, BAFO by Tom Strelich, Lighting up the Two Year Old by Benjie Aerenson, Beti the Yeti by Jon Klein, Shooting Simone by Lynne Kaufman, Alabama Rain by Heather McCutchen, Black by Joyce Carol Oates, and The Swan by Elizabeth Egloff. Other CATF credits include: Fifty Words by Michael Weller, Farragut North by Beau Willimon, The Overwhelming by J.T. Rogers, Wrecks by Neil LaBute, and Mr. Marmalade by Noah Haidle.

In addition to CATF, Ed has worked in a variety of regional theaters including The Milwaukee Repertory, The Missouri Repertory, The Old Globe, The Lyceum Theater, and The Williamstown Theatre Festival. Ed has also served on the 2002 admissions committee at New Dramatists, NYC and as a panelist for the NEA. In the summer of 2002, Ed Herendeen conducted a workshop at the TCG New Artistic Leadership Institute. In 1999, Governor Cecil H. Underwood presented CATF with the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.


Margaret (Peggy) McKowen brings both artistic and administrative experience to CATF. Peggy spent five years as Chair of the Division of Theatre and Dance at West Virginia University. During that time she promoted and implemented commercial theatre internships, international performance exchanges, and professional development activities for the students of theater. She was an active participant with the University/Resident Theatre Association, the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and the National Association of Schools of Theater while serving on the Chair’s Advisory Committee to the Associate Provost for Academic Personnel.

Prior to joining the Festival staff in January 2007, Peggy was working as a free-lance designer. Most recently her work was seen in New York with the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble and Gateway Playhouse; and in California on Libby Larsen’s new opera, Every Man Jack. As resident designer for the Obie-award-winning Jean Cocteau Repertory, Peggy designed: the Darius Milhaud scored version for Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, the Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heany’s The Cure at Troy, and several productions directed by late Eve Adamson. Regional theater work has been seen at Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Texas Shakespeare Festival, and the Dallas Shakespeare Festival. She designed Romeo and Juliet, one of six tours of the National Endowment for the Arts’ series: Shakespeare in the American Communities. In 2006 Peggy began her affiliation with CATF, designing the costumes for Mr. Marmalade and the World Premiere of Keith Glover’s Jazzland. Peggy’s international design work has been seen at the B.A.T. Studio Theatre (Berlin), the Teatro Alfa Real (Sao Paulo, Brazil), and for the E.T.A. Hoffmann Theatre in Bamberg (Germany). She designed the first full-length English speaking production of The Tempest performed in Beijing, China.

Additional examples of her design work can be seen in the texts, “Theatre: The Lively Art” and “The Theatre Experience.” Peggy’s work has been shown in the Ukraine as part of the American Theatre Design Exhibit. Her designs for the Jean Cocteau Repertory production of Mother Courage and her Children can be found in The New York Public Library’s Theatre on Film and Tape Archive. Peggy is a member of United Scenic Artists 829 and received her MFA from the University of Texas in Austin.


Catherine is the Director of the Casting the Future Initiative, the theater’s program designed to achieve the goals of our Long Range Plan. She was the CATF Managing Director from 1999 to the fall of 2004. Her theater management career includes work as the Director of Development of Arena Stage and Managing Director of the Living Stage Theater Company, Arena Stage’s outreach program. She has also worked with the Round House Theatre, the African Continuum Theatre Company, Child’s Play in Arizona and the MeadowBrook Theatre in Michigan. Catherine lives in Shepherdstown and is a member of the Rotary Club, having served on their Board as Vice-President and then as President. She was a member of the Leadership WV Class of 2001.


CATF’s Business Manager brings exceptional background and training to a position that balances art and commerce. Lissa Cobetto started in professional theater at the Pittsburgh Public Theater and the City Theatre Company. She worked for George and Christine Romero on the film “Creepshow” and then pursued filmmaking in New York City. While working at New York University’s Undergraduate Film and Television Department in 1986, she saw her first interactive laserdisc and shifted her career focus to multimedia. After completing her Master’s degree in Interactive Telecommunications from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she worked with some of the top companies in the industry, including The Voyager Company and CDNOW.com. In 2003, Lissa returned to theater, joining the staff at Franklin Park Performing and Visual Arts Center in Loudoun County, VA, helping with their first professional theater productions and the Very Special Arts program.


Patrick is a success story of CATF’s Internship Program. A graduate of Otterbein College, he started with the Festival six years ago as a Stage Management Intern and has returned for the last three Seasons as Technical Director. For four years, he served as Assistant Technical Director at Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis, where he was in charge of Special Effects, Hydraulic/Pneumatic Systems, and Computerized Show Control. In January of 2001, he accepted the position ofTechnical Director for Shepherd University Theater and Music, where he currently manages the technical needs of university productions with the help of his wife Mandy on Props and Costumes. Together, they are restoring an 1865 Maryland home, have a wonderful cat named Irving, and create custom woodworking and upholstery in their shop in Funkstown, MD.